Here comes a ramble with no direction…just writing as a way to figure things out. I would love your thoughts.
I saw a conversation online that I have either heard or been a part of several times. The question that started the conversation was (and it is a relevant one), “Can you be a great teacher in our world today and not use technology?”
The reality of this question is that there is no simple “yes” or “no”. There are teachers that are not great with technology that are amazing teachers, and there are teachers that are great with technology who are not the best teachers. One of the important elements in this question that is missing is, “what is the purpose of school?” If it is to prepare kids for the future, do we miss a lot when we are not even using the tools of the present?
Or on the other hand, if you are spending inordinate amounts of time with your students using Twitter, when we know eventually this will go to the “MySpace graveyard”, are we helping kids with their future by focusing so much time on tools that may not be used in the future? Is this “just in case learning” (in case we need this in the future” or is it “just in time learning” (important to what we do today)?
After relationships, technology would not be my first trait, but more likely that a person is always willing to learn, and do something with that learning. That is what I would call the “sponge factor”; willing to absorb new learning and then share it out with others.
What if a teacher that is not strong with technology sparks a child to constantly want to learn more that the child goes on and explores on their own? To me, a teacher that teaches a student to learn is more important than one that focuses on content only. A teacher should also be measured on what their student does after their time with them, not only on their time in a classroom.
There are so many nuances and important questions in this conversation but I think it is one that we need to ask our staff. This goes deeper than just using technology, but more to what we want to achieve now and in the future.
That being said, I had a great conversation with a teacher the other day and we talked about hiring new teachers and I told her that I am looking for ones that use technology and incorporate into meaningful ways into learning. Hiring practices should change along with our focus in our schools and we can not ask the same interview questions we did ten years ago. (Take a look at some of the questions people would ask now compared to ten years ago that they shared on this tweet). Her argument (which is a valid one) was that years ago, she did not have the same skills that she does today and what would I have lost out on if I had not hired her and worked on developing her as a teacher. (From everything I have seen of her work, she is an amazing teacher.) What I told her was that if I had to choose between someone who is great with relationships and terrible with technology, over someone who is terrible with relationships but great with technology, I would take the former over the latter every time. But we are seeing now is we don’t have to pick one or the other, because so many educators have both.
There is much more to teaching than being good with technology and being good with relationships. So much more. But in a world where you can learn so much just by having the ability to not only comprehend how to use technology, but understand how to actually leverage it, do we lose out on teaching kids about the opportunities for learning beyond the walls of our schools which is so important in both the present and future? Teaching kids to learn, be flexible while also resilient, is so important in our world where technology surrounds us. In a world that is increasingly more complicated, we need to help our students be able to navigate what is coming their way and embrace change and see it as an opportunity. Teachers need to model this.
Help me unmuddy this in my head. Thoughts?
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